Consultant selected for River District framework plan

Consultant selected for River District framework plan


On Jan. 18, Sarah Skorija, president of Rockford’s River District Association, announced the selection of SmithGroup JJR as lead consultant for the preparation of a Framework Plan for Rockford’s downtown or “river district.” River District teamed with the City of Rockford, Winnebago County and the Rockford Park District to fund the River District Framework Plan. SmithGroup JJR was selected from a field of 12 firms.

SmithGroup JJR provides urban planning, landscape architecture, urban design, civil engineering and environmental services to public and private clients nationwide. In addition to the Chicago office, SmithGroup JJR maintains offices in Ann Arbor and Detroit, Mich.; Madison, Wis.; and San Francisco, Calif., and has a staff of more than 140 city planners, landscape architects, urban designers, civil engineers, regulatory specialists, environmental scientists and support professionals. Joe Zehnder, AICP, and Michael Goldberg, AICP, will lead the effort from the firm’s Chicago office.

Project team members include the Rockford architecture firm, William J. Johannes, Architects and the Chicago real estate market analysis firm, Real Estate Planning Group. Enthisuasm for the project; ability to effectively synthesize city planning, urban design, landscape architecture and real estate market analysis; in addition to their past experience on similar projects including plans for the cities of Milwaukee and Madison, Wis.; Ottawa, Ill.; Grand Rapids, Minn.; and Cedar Falls, Iowa, is what gave the SmithGroup JJR team the edge over its competition.

The total amount that has been raised for the study is $40,000. The contributors are City of Rockford, Rockford Park District, Rockford Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, Community Foundation of Northern Illinois, River District Association, Associated Bank, Amcore Bank, Ameritech, Centre Events and Conseco.

Kim Wheeler, executive director of River District, commented, “Having gone through an educational process over the past year regarding urban planning, I am now eager to get started working on this project and to get input from the community. There will be many opportunities for anyone who is interested to participate… The consultant team is made up of professionals who have years of experience working with numerous communities on similar projects. They will be able to analyze all types of information… William Johannes Architects is a great asset to the consultant team because of this firm’s knowledge of the community and experience working on several historical projects in River District.”

City Administrator Einar Forsman stated, “The city is excited to be a funder and a participant in the study. We have a number of parties in downtown who participate and build consensus for the long-term development and investment in the city’s downtown.They selected a wonderful consultant, and it’s a nice partnership with local and out-of-town consultants. They’ve got the skills and experience to put together a plan that should make sense.”

Ed McCullough, director of planning for the Rockford Park District, added, “The Park District is really pleased with the plan put together by the River District for the development of this Framework Plan. We look forward to widespread public participation in the plan and to carving out a new future for the River District.”

Next week—the full text of the Framework Plan Study project.

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